by Steff Gelston

CIO Ones to Watch – Follow the Leaders

Jul 01, 20063 mins
IT Leadership

What is leadership? That question and its companion—How best to lead?—must be answered by CIOs as they prepare the next generation of IT leaders.

We all know leadership when we see it. And we can easily note its absence.

But separating leadership into its constituent elements isn’t so simple.What we know for certain is that leadership development is an imperative. CIOs need leaders in the ranks. Otherwise, the job becomes impossible. And the most successful CIOs take an active role in cultivating leaders. So the 2006 Ones to Watch award not only honors the 20 men and women who have shown the judging panel that they have what it takes to be tomorrow’s CIOs, the awards are also an acknowledgement of the personal commitment to fostering talent shown by their CIOs.

And when it comes to leadership development, never underestimate the power of getting personally involved. A CIO poll of this year’s winners found that 63 percent described their own CIO as being “extremely committed” to developing internal IT leaders.

Still, aspiring minds want to know: How do you become a person others want to follow?

Start by being yourself, say CIOs, some of whom share the secrets of their own leadership success in “The Right Stuff” (Page 46). Play to your strengths. If you’re a hands-on person, be a hands-on leader. If you’re not a rah-rah type, don’t try to fake it. Find another way to inspire the troops. Most importantly, says Marilyn Delmont, CIO for the city of Chandler, Ariz., stay true to yourself. “Don’t jeopardize your principles,” she says, because that’s what defines you in the eyes of others.

All the Ones to Watch honorees excel at leadership. But this year, we drilled deeper to try to understand which leadership skills they deemed most critical to their success. The winners say that change management (65 percent), relationship building (55 percent), business strategy (45 percent), driving innovation (40 percent) and project management (40 percent) were “extremely important” in their rise to the top. To recognize these key components of well-rounded leadership and to honor the individuals who exemplify them, CIO has created the Ones to Watch Standout awards. We introduce this new award in “Master Class” (Page 56) and profile five standouts from this year’s crop of Ones to Watch winners who have mastered these skills. We examine the demands each of these winners faced within their company and explore how they applied their special talent to resolving a problem or confronting a challenge.

Congratulations to all our winners and to the CIOs who first nurtured and then nominated them. And just in case you were wondering about our ability to spot a winner, we’ve already had our first member of the Ones to Watch Class of 2005 graduate to the next level: Kudos to Darren Dworkin, now the CIO of Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles (“Making It,” Page 48).

See you all at the top.